Read Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -) Online

Authors: Eva Hudson

Tags: #mystery, #thriller

Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -) (20 page)

BOOK: Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -)
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“Hey, I just got off the phone. I’m feeling a little harassed here.”

“I’m just eager to get some place with this goddamn case.”

“Take it easy, you’re sounding a little… stressed.”

“Stressed? No way. Just enthusiastic.”

“Answer me one question.”

“Anything.”

“How much do you owe your successful career in the Bureau to yours truly?”

“You know I owe you everything, Mike. It goes without saying.”

“Sometimes it’s nice to hear it.”

“So… your buddy in Witness Protection?”

“Matthew Fuller’s name, aged seven, was Matthew Brite. His dad testified against a Henry Ellis, some Ponzi investment scam.”

A chill ran across Ingrid’s shoulders.

It was the information she had been hoping for. Finally she had a connection between Barbara Highsmith and Matthew Fuller: Highsmith the highly successful, career-focused prosecuting attorney, Fuller the son of the man whose testimony the whole case depended on.

“David Brite is dead, you know that?” Mike said.

“Matthew’s dad? Yes—he died in an accident.”

“You make it sound straightforward.”

“Are you going to tell me that it wasn’t?”

“He died while water-skiing, if you can believe it.”

“Is that relevant?”

“Did you know the reason for death was asphyxiation?”

“He drowned, I guess.”

“No—his asthma inhaler was empty when he tried to use it. He died of an asthma attack.”

“Are you suggesting his inhaler was tampered with?”

“I’m just putting two and two together and making plenty. Think about it: the prosecuting attorney in the Ellis case is dead, the star witness is dead, the witness’ son is dead. Seems a pretty comprehensive wipeout to me.”

“But Henry Ellis is dead too. He didn’t kill those people.”

“I’m looking at his details right here.” Mike’s tone sounded decidedly smug.

“What is it?”

“How much do you owe me?”

“Give me a break, Mike.” Ingrid’s head was pounding.

“Ellis had a son, Cory, born 1979.”

Ingrid did the math. “He’d be thirty-four now.”

“Don’t tell me, that just happens to be the same age as your suspect.”

“Mike! You are a genius.”

“I know.”

“Thank you so much.” Ingrid looked up to discover Jennifer looming over her desk, a panicked expression on her face. “Listen Mike, something’s come up. I’ll call you back.” She slammed down the phone. “What is it?”

“You’ve got blood running all down your face.”

32

“How many more times will I have to patch you up, huh?” The embassy doctor was standing in the doorway of the office, wagging a finger at Ingrid.

As far as she could recall, she’d never even asked for his assistance. She threw an accusatory glance at Jennifer, who quickly looked away.
 

Ingrid then managed to force herself to sit still through the doctor’s examination, an endless list of questions and finally the application of a fresh dressing. All in all, she was incapacitated for well over an hour.

Eventually he snapped off his latex gloves. “Now please—take it easy, will you? How’s the shoulder?”

“A little sore, but fine. It’s nothing more than a big ugly purple bruise.”

“I’ve a mind to sign you off active duty.”

“That really won’t be necessary.”

“There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re hurt, you know.”

“I’m just sitting at my desk—what possible harm can I come to?”

The doctor turned to Jennifer. “Can I rely on you to make sure she does exactly that?”

Jennifer nodded meekly at him, but avoided Ingrid’s gaze. When finally he exited the office, the clerk said, “I only did what was right. I’m not going to apologize for that. You need somebody looking out for you.”

Ingrid immediately got back on the phone to Mike Stiller.

“What was the problem?”

“Just an open head wound.”

“Yours?”

“Yep.”

“You OK?”

“Right as rain. Couple Tylenol and I’ll be fully restored.”

“Something else you want to discuss?”

“I’ve been thinking… if you were Ellis’ son, why wait so long to avenge your dad’s death? Henry Ellis died in 1992, David Brite was killed in 2003.”

“Cory Ellis was only thirteen when his dad died. What did you expect him to do? Quit school and go on the rampage?”

“But the ex-congresswoman was murdered just last May,
twenty
years after Henry Ellis committed suicide. Cory Ellis must be an exceptionally patient man.”

“Maybe we could describe him as goal-oriented and extremely focused. Determined, single-minded.”

Mike Stiller had just set out more character traits for a narcissistic sociopath. Ingrid got a little fidgety. She had a link connecting Highsmith and Fuller and a profile that fit the one she’d sketched of Darryl Wyatt. Cory Ellis had to be her man.

“Wait a minute,” Mike said.

“What is it?”

“What a tragedy.”

“What have you found out?”

“Mary Ellis, Henry’s widow, Cory’s mom, also committed suicide, May 15
th
2001.”

The date was significant, Ingrid was sure. If her head had been a little clearer, she might have remembered why before Mike Stiller chimed in.

“The ninth anniversary of Henry Ellis’ death,” he said, a note of smugness creeping into his voice.

Ingrid sat very still. She tried to concentrate. The date of Henry Ellis’ death wasn’t the one she was thinking of. Then, despite the anvil pounding in her head, it came to her. “That’s the day Barbara Highsmith was killed.”

“It was?”

“When did David Brite have his fatal accident?”

Mike tapped in something to his keyboard. Ingrid waited. “Same date,” he told her after a few moments.

“That’s one way to mark the anniversary of your parents’ deaths.”

At the other end of the line Mike Stiller let out a breathy whistle.

“Can you send me everything you have from the Marshals Office?”

“Sure. Who knew a stupid Ponzi scheme could cause so much havoc?”

“It wouldn’t have been the first time. Or the last.”

“Listen, I’ll send you everything I’ve got. But you should take it easy, you hear? Open head wounds don’t heal without a little help.”

“No need to worry about me.” She hung up and stared for a little while at the phone. Something was niggling at her, but the harder she tried to pin it down, the more elusive it became. She waited for Mike’s email to arrive, and tried to get a little more comfortable at her desk.

Just a couple of minutes later, a cascade of emails and attachments arrived courtesy of Agent Stiller. Ingrid set to work. After an hour or so of going through both Matthew ‘Brite’ Fuller’s records and those of his mother and father, her eyes started to swim a little. She closed them and relaxed back in her seat. Maybe it was time for another couple Tylenol.

*

Ingrid snapped open her eyes. The stabbing pain in her temple was so intense that she saw black dots in front of her eyes. It took her a few moments longer to realize her head was resting on her arms and her arms were leaning flat on her desk. She blinked. Someone had thoughtfully draped her jacket over her shoulders. Her mouth was connected to her sleeve by a trail of drool. She managed to lick her lips.

Slowly, painfully slowly, she pushed up off the desk and sat up straight. The room spun a little. She waited for it to stop before trying to move again.

Both Jennifer’s and Isaac’s desks were empty. They’d obviously left silently, not wanting to disturb her. Given how stiff her limbs felt and how sharp the pain in her temple, she might have welcomed a little gentle prodding. Then she noticed an old-fashioned alarm clock sitting on the corner of her desk. It was set to go off in five minutes. Next to the clock was a bottle of Evian, two white, oval-shaped pills and a note telling her to take it easy. Jennifer Rocharde had thought of everything.

Ingrid’s cell started to buzz. She watched it creep a little further across her desk with every vibration. She peered at the screen before picking it up.

Crap
.

It was the real estate agent. She was supposed to be moving into her apartment today. She grabbed the phone.

“Hi.” The word came out as a croak.

“Ms Skyberg?”

She was so used to having her name prefaced with “Agent” she was momentarily at a loss how to respond.

“I’m here outside the property. Have been since six-thirty.” His voice sounded weird, a little higher pitched than she remembered it. He was obviously very pissed at her.

“I’ll be there in ten minutes, I swear.”

She shrugged into her jacket, grabbed her purse and headed for the women’s restroom. A splash of cold water turned out to be even more restorative than she’d hoped.

She headed for the basement parking lot, her stiff legs getting a little looser with every stride.

33

Getting out onto Park Lane and then around Marble Arch at the north-east corner of Hyde Park was no problem at all. Ingrid maneuvered the bike around stationary buses and black taxis, and quickly turned left into Edgware Road, made it fifty yards north, then stopped. Suddenly nothing seemed to be moving up or down the street. There was barely enough space for pedal cycles to squeeze through the gaps. Most of the cyclists had taken to the sidewalk. All she could do was sit and wait. She pulled her phone from a pocket and sent an apologetic text to the realtor. He responded with a text back:
no worries
.

The bike crept forward by tiny increments for the next twenty minutes. More than once, Ingrid considered abandoning it at the side of the road. But she was still faster on two wheels than two legs—especially given the soreness in her shoulder and the throbbing pain in her head. Frustrated as hell, she continued to make very slow progress for another ten minutes, until she passed under the Marylebone expressway. Then, as if by magic, the gridlock ceased. Glancing across the street, Ingrid noticed an ambulance and two smashed up cars. The snarl-up had been caused by an accident on the southbound carriageway and rubberneckers on the northbound side, curious to see what was happening. Ingrid had slowed down herself to take a good look at the wreckage at the side of the road. She quickly chastised herself and accelerated toward Maida Vale.

Five minutes later she was climbing off the bike in the forecourt of the apartment block. She took off her helmet and gloves, stored them in the box on the bike and surveyed the parked vehicles for a red, white and blue Mini. There wasn’t one. She jogged out onto the street. No Mini there either. And no sign of the realtor on the sidewalk.

Dammit
.

He must have gotten tired of waiting for her. So much for his laid back response to her text. She checked her phone. She definitely hadn’t missed a call. She returned to the bike and glanced at the main entrance of the building. An envelope was wedged inside one of the long brass door handles. Ingrid pulled it free and discovered her name was scribbled on the front. She tore it open and shook out a set of keys, three in total. Two for the apartment itself and one for the main entrance. She peered inside the envelope expecting to see a note, but there wasn’t one.

She thought about going straight up to remind herself just how great the view was, but it was already after eight p.m., so she decided to return to her hotel to check out.

The journey to Marylebone was much easier than the one to Maida Vale. No sign of the road traffic accident at all. Less than a half hour after leaving the apartment block, she was stuffing her handful of possessions into a small suitcase.

She opened the safe inside the closet and removed her Glock 23. She didn’t really have any safe place to store it at the apartment—she’d need to invest in a strong box. Meanwhile she’d just have to leave it at the embassy, which meant an unwelcome detour on the way back to her new home. She shoved the gun in a daypack and pulled out the remaining items from the safe: her passport, a little under $1000 in cash, and her engagement ring. She slipped the ring onto her finger. It felt cold. And a little loose. She must have lost weight since she last wore it. Staring down at the cluster of diamonds set in white gold, she pictured Marshall on one knee—in the middle of his favorite restaurant—reciting a little speech he’d obviously rehearsed. It had to be one of the few times she’d actually detected a flicker of vulnerability in his expression. He’d looked so earnest, so serious, so needy. And the most handsome she’d ever seen him. She wasn’t sure how long it had taken her to say yes, but long enough for all the other diners to stop eating and stare at them. With that kind of audience anticipation, she couldn’t really say no.

They had been engaged for over a year now. She’d have to agree to a date for the wedding soon. But she couldn’t think about that right now. She took off the ring and slipped it into her purse. Immediately she felt a little lighter.

She sank onto the bed. What was she doing? She hadn’t even told Marshall about the apartment yet. And here she was, getting excited about her first night there. Thinking about waking up in the morning to glorious views. She wondered if she should call him right then. Tell him she was planning to stay on in London—at least for the next little while. She pulled her cell from her purse, then just stared at the screen.

Tomorrow. She’d tell Marshall tomorrow.

With her daypack on her back and the suitcase strapped to the back of the bike, Ingrid rode the short distance to the embassy, deposited the Glock with security, picked up the sleeping bag she
 
kept in the large drawer beneath her desk, then headed north to her new home.

When she finally got inside the building she discovered the elevators were out of order. She struggled over to the stairway with her suitcase and stood looking up at the first flight. A sudden and overwhelming fatigue enveloped her. The eight-story trek to the top floor felt like an attempt on Everest. She took a deep breath and started to climb. By the time she’d reached the halfway point she texted McKittrick, suggesting a little company and a large bottle of tequila seemed like a nice way to welcome her into her new home.

BOOK: Kill Plan (Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers -)
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